Monday, 30 April 2012

Specials by Scott Westerfeld

 Do not read this review unless you have already read both Uglies and Pretties or don't mind being spoiled. My review for Uglies is located here and my review for Pretties is here.

Synopsis (from the Waterstones Website)

Pages: 400
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Release Date: 4th of March 2010

"Special Circumstances" - These words have sent chills down Tally's spine since her days as a rebellious Ugly. Back then Specials were a sinister rumour - frighteningly beautiful, dangerously strong, breathtakingly fast. Ordinary pretties might live their whole lives without meeting a Special. But Tally's never been ordinary...Now she's been turned into one of them: a superamped fighting machine, engineered to keep the Uglies down and the Pretties stupid. The strength, the speed, and the clarity and focus of her thinking feel better than anything Tally can remember...most of the time. One tiny corner of her heart still remembers something more. Still, it's easy to tune that out - until Tally's offered a chance to stamp out the rebels of the New Smoke permanently. It all comes down to one last choice: carry out the mission she's programmed to complete, or listen to that tiny, faint heartbeat telling her that something's wrong...Either way, Tally's world will never be the same.

What I Have to Say

 With every book I read of this series, I wait for the idea to become stretched and unbelievable, but Westerfeld keeps making it work.

I love  the way he's combined Tally the Special, Tally the Pretty and Tally the Ugly. In both of these later books he's managed to put the 'bubblehead' or predatory-cruel-pretty persona onto her without losing the voice of Tally that we grew to love in the first book. It's easy to believe that no matter how much they muck around in her head, she'll always be the same Tally underneath. It works so well because the different versions are so different but still leave room for the character underneath to peek through.

I really love this series and don't want it to end. It's just such a great dystopian world that he's created.

If you've not already taken my advice and read Uglies, please get hold of a copy and read. I hope that you'll fall in love with this world as much as I have. :) I'll probably reiterate this in my review of Extras later on ;)

Monday, 23 April 2012

Unrest by Michelle Harrison

 Synopsis (from the Waterstones Website)

Pages: 384
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Release Date: 26th of April 2012

Seventeen-year-old Elliott hasn't slept properly for six months. Not since the accident that nearly killed him. Now he is afraid to go to sleep. Sometimes he wakes to find himself paralysed, unable to move a muscle, while shadowy figures move around him. Other times he is the one moving around, while his body lies asleep on the bed. According to his doctor, sleep paralysis and out of body experiences are harmless - but to Elliot they're terrifying. Convinced that his brush with death has opened up connections with the spirit world, Elliott secures a live-in job at one of England's most haunted locations, determined to find out the truth. There he finds Sebastian, the ghost of a long-dead servant boy hanged for stealing bread. He also meets the living, breathing Ophelia, a girl with secrets of her own. She and Elliott grow closer, but things take a terrifying turn when Elliott discovers Sebastian is occupying his body when he leaves it. And the more time Sebastian spends inhabiting a living body, the more resistant he becomes to giving it back. Worse, he seems to have an unhealthy interest in Ophelia. Unless Elliott can lay Sebastian's spirit to rest, he risks being possessed by him for ever, and losing the girl of his dreams...

 What I Have to Say

I was so excited when I found this book in waterstones the other day. I felt really lucky since it's not technically out until Thursday ^^ And I wasn't disappointed!

I've read and loved Michelle Harrison's faery books. This one was even better! Though if you want to sleep, don't read it after dark ;)

I think the thing that I most loved about this book was the realness of it. Harrison has really done her research on paranormal sightings and sleep disorders. The characters were also really well built and the relationship between Elliott and Ophelia was really easy to believe.

Harrison is also really good at creating mystery and tension. She built up almost every revelation to bring more questions. There were also a few surprises. I always try to guess the end of the book and feel really clever when I do (well, doesn't everyone really :P) but with this book she slipped in two revelations at once, one that I guessed and one that I hadn't. It made me feel clever and surprised me at the same time!

So if you like realistic characters and ghost stories then this book is definitely for you! Just don't read after dark!

Monday, 16 April 2012

The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa

Synopsis (from the Waterstones Website)

Pages: 512
Publisher: MIRA Ink
Series: Blood of Eden (Book 1)
Release Date: 4th of May 2012 (US: 24th of April 2012)

In a future world, vampires reign. Humans are blood cattle. And one girl will search for the key to save humanity. Allison Sekemoto survives in the Fringe, the outermost circle of a vampire city. By day, she and her crew scavenge for food. By night, any one of them could be eaten. Some days, all that drives Allie is her hatred of them. The vampires who killed her mother and keep humans as blood cattle. Until the night Allie herself is attacked - and given the ultimate choice. Die...or become one of the monsters. Faced with her own mortality, Allie becomes what she despises most. To survive, she must work with her vampire creator and learn the rules of being immortal. Including the most important: go long enough without human blood, and you will go mad. When Allison is separated from her creator, she flees into the unknown, the world outside her vampire city, beyond the wall. There she joins a ragged band of humans who don't know what she is, seeking a legend - a possible cure to the disease that killed off most of humankind and created the rabids, the mindless creatures who threaten humans and vampires alike.

What I Have to Say

 First up, I want to say that I am eternally indebted to Sophie at So Many Books, So Little Time for sending this copy my way. I am so, so grateful for so much that she's done for me and this blog (without her it wouldn't exist xD) and this is just the latest and best thing she has done to help me.

Another thing I just want to get out of the way before I start my proper review, is the fangirling. I can't possibly write this review without turning into a squeeing pile of goo. So I'm just going to just let it all out so that I can be reasonably calm and intelligent. Just bare with me a moment (feel free to skip the next paragraph):

Oh my god! This book was so incredibly amazing and I love Julie Kagawa so much and would read her grocery list if she were to publish it! She's just has such a beautiful way with words and I just love all of her books, but this one was even better and- and it's too much *excitable squeeing*

*breathes a few times* Okay. I'm calm. Everyone still here? Great! Thank you for your patience with that. ^^

Basically, the main thing I have to say is that this is the best book I have ever read. It has gone straight up to the position of my favourite book and I think will stay there for a long time. It was so well constructed and beautifully written that I just loved every word of it. I think every single one of you reading this right now should stop what you're doing and go pre-order this book (or just buy it if you're reading this later on). This is how much I recommend this book.

Honestly though? I knew that I would love this book since the moment I heard of it. A Vampire Dystopia written by Julie Kagawa? I'm in! Add in the surname Sekemoto and a katana and it was like the book was written especially for me ^^

Vampires have got a bad name recently. The whole Twilight thing got out of hand and brought in a string of books with soft, cowardly vampires who didn't drink blood (although it must be said that I do love a lot of the vampires who don't drink blood), but Kagawa has attempted to bring back the really evil, twister monster vampires!!! And she's done it cleverly too. Not only has she got the really messed up ones who run everything and treat humans as cattle, but she's also kept the Dark Fantasy angle going by having a vampire- main character who we can sympathise with and love.

There are some very, very sad bits though. The relationship between Zeke and Allison is very tragic. I've never really felt that a relationship between a vampire and a human couldn't work out before. Maybe it's because I know of too many examples where it has all turned out fine. But this just broke my heart.

I'm also amazed by how much I cared about the character too. There are some characters that I really care for in books and I'm scared they're going to die. But Allison is a tough character, I never really worried about her not being able to face off any danger that she faced. The thing I worried about was that she'd lose control of herself and be revealed as a vampire. But that worry was so intense. I was just willing her to have some blood and get herself out of danger every time she went too long without any!! It's the first time, I think, that I've cared for a book character more like the way I would care about a friend, with concern and worry rather than the more common I-hope-she'll-be-okay kind of worry.

The last point I want to make is about the YA tag. I don't think that Young Adult books are only for Young Adults. In fact, I don't think any book is only for a specific audience. But this book especially I think is one that can be enjoyed by adults as well as teenagers. It is gritty and it is dark and it's really just an amazing world to read about. Plus the cover isn't too YA looking so you won't be looked at weirdly if you read it on the bus ;)

So yes. I have so much more I can say about this, but I feel I should stop before it gets too long a post! If you would like to hear more of my thoughts, then leave a comment and maybe I could do a Part 2 or something. Also, I'm sure that if you know me or follow me on Twitter then you will hear much, much more of me babbling on about how great it is.

And in absolute seriousness, if you're only going to take one of my recommendations then make sure it's this one.

Monday, 9 April 2012

Night School by C.J Daugherty

 Synopsis (from the Waterstones Website

Sometimes school can be murder...Allie Sheridan's world is falling apart. She hates her school. Her brother has run away from home. And she's just been arrested. Again. This time her parents have finally had enough. They cut her off from her friends and send her away to a boarding school for problem teenagers. But Cimmeria Academy is no ordinary school. It allows no computers or phones. Its students are an odd mixture of the gifted, the tough and the privileged. And then there's the secretive Night School, whose activities other students are forbidden even to watch. When Allie is attacked one night the incident sets off a chain of events leading to the violent death of a girl at the summer ball. As the school begins to seem like a very dangerous place, Allie must learn who she can trust. And what's really going on at Cimmeria Academy.

What I have to Say

 I loved this book so much! I wasn't sure what to make of it at first but it's just so well written. Allie is a really strong character and the plot is intriguing and gripping in all the right ways!

What I think I really liked though was the way that friendships were shown. In fact all the relationships were so real. A lot of books show people being the absolute best of friends where nothing can ever go wrong, but this shows the bitchiness that people can have. Especially with girls and especially at a boarding school.

In some books, it's fine. Especially if the book needs a really close group of friends, but in others, and especially in this one, the fluctuating friendships really add something to the plotline.

The other thing I think that really made this books something special was how well the mystery element was done. It was constantly hovering on the line between mysterious and frustrating, enough to keep people guessing, but not too much that they give up reading it. Also it means that you can really emphasis with Allie about being left in the dark all the time, because you're in the same position.

Oh and the tea. There was a lot of tea in this book. But in a good way. It made it feel real and wasn't too intrusive. And it was very British :P It really caught the attitude that a lot of us have about being able to solve everything with a cup of tea. When something bad happens, you go and get tea, when something good happens, you go and get tea, doing homework? Why not have tea to go with it. I know that feeling well :)

So I really highly recommend this book! If you like dark, mysteries set at British boarding schools then this is something that you just have to read.

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Fiktshun's Soul Screamers Reading Challenge: My Soul to Keep

 There will be spoilers in this post from My Soul to Take and My Soul to Save. If you want to know more about the Soul Screamers books then check out my review of the first book in the series, My Soul to Take here! If you've already read My Soul to Take, then my review of My Soul to Steal is here!

Synopsis (from the Waterstones Website)

KAYLEE HAS ONE ADDICTION:HER BOYFRIEND NASH Like Kaylee, Nash is a banshee. So he understands her like no one else. Nothing - supernatural or otherwise - can come between them. That is, until something does. Demon breath - a potent paranormal drug with the power to kill. Somehow the super-addictive substance has made its way to the human world. Kaylee and Nash need to cut off the source and protect their human friends - one of whom is already hooked. But Kaylee's plans are soon derailed when she uncovers another secret demon breath addict in their midst. Nash. Now she's ready to kick some serious Netherworld butt - but is it too late to save the boy who's stolen her heart?

What I Have to Say  

 I loved this book so much more than the other two! I was expecting something much the same, a stability in quality that doesn't make the series better or worse, but this was a real step up in quality. The emotions that she brings into her writing are just so touching.

The dangers of drug use (a very human issue) combined with the element of the Neverworld was really well written and led to a good story.

I did miss Todd though. There really wasn't enough of him in this book. Still when he did show up it was great. And I really want him and Emma to get together! They'd be a great couple and he clearly likes her!

Monday, 2 April 2012

Raised by Wolves by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Synopsis (from the Waterstones Website)

Pack life is about order, but Bryn is about to push all the limits, with hair-raising results. At the age of four, Bryn watched a rabid werewolf brutally murder her parents. Alone in the world, she was rescued and taken in by Callum, the alpha of his pack. Now fifteen, Bryn's been as a human among werewolves, adhering to pack rule. Little fazes her. But the pack's been keeping a secret, and when Bryn goes exploring against Callum's orders, she finds Chase, a newly turned teen Were locked in a cage. Terrifying memories of the attack on her parents come flooding back. Bryn needs answers, and she needs Chase to get them. Suddenly, all allegiances to the pack no longer matter. It's Bryn and Chase against the werewolf world, whatever the consequences.

What I Have to Say

 This book didn't impress me at first, but it really grew on me as I got to know the character. She's really well built so that you can really see the Bryn as a fairly normal teenage girl, but at the same time the influence that being raised as part of a werewolf pack has had on her is very apparent.

The pack society is really interesting as well. A lot of portrayal of were-creatures show a lot of human influence. But in this book it was much more animalistic with just a few bits of humanity there. I found it really realistic because I think that a were-wolf society probably wouldn't have that much humanity in it, not if they're raised so far away from humans.

The decision to make the main character human was also a really good choice. She's in the society but at the same time she's not.

And Werewolf babies ftw!! They're so adorable! I've been waiting for someone to do proper werewolf pups for ages! Because babies who can change into little wolf pups are so cute and finally I've found someone doing it! The fact that they change in their childhood also adds more realism to the society. These aren't humans who start turning into wolves at adolescence, they are raised as both human and wolves.

If you like werewolf books and want to see adorable little pups then this book is definitely for you.